This well-used and well-loved lake lies in a big mountain-rimmed basin. On the surrounding slopes, the treeline flirts with vast meadows. The lake lies at 10,687 feet; the easy Jefferson Loop Trail around it offers stunning view after stunning view of high peaks on all sides.
DISTANCE: 1 1/2-mile loop
COST: $4 day-use fee per vehicle
FYI: Restrooms and picnic areas are at the lake.
WHERE: From Denver take U.S. 285 west. About 23 miles west of Bailey, turn right on County Rd. 35, then turn right on Forest Rd. 37 and follow signs 6 miles to the lake.
CONTACT: South Park Ranger District (719/836-2031)
NEAR GEORGETOWN, CO
For a combination of above-the-treeline scenery and accessibility from Denver, the tough hike to Grizzly Peak can't be beat. Start climbing east from 11,990-foot Loveland Pass. At the top of the ridge, go right and follow a rough, undulating trail over two intermediary high points before you gain the 13,427-foot Grizzly Peak summit. You'll pass lichen-covered rocks and pockets of sturdy flowers. This is an unmarked trail in wild alpine country, but you'll have views of civilization ― the ski trails of Keystone and Breckenridge.
DISTANCE: 7 miles round trip
WHERE: From I-70 about 12 miles west of Georgetown, take exit 216; head west on U.S. 6 about 4 miles to parking.
CONTACT: Clear Creek Ranger District (303/567-3000)